Keynote: Creating Innovative Libraries

Susan Hildreth, director of the IMLS gave the keynote this morning.

Susan started by introducing us to the IMLS and the grants that they offer to libraries and librarians. There were many great ways to get funding for your library and/or your professional education. The one grant program that makes the most sense to share (given the session title and my audience) are the Sparks! Ignition Grants which include small grants (up to $25,000 I think she said) to help fund innovative projects in libraries.

We in libraries should promote the tools that allow our patrons to create content! Susan also stresses that partnership is the key to success and we must be embedded in our communities. Our communities will not come to us we need to go to them. The 21st century library can no longer stand alone, collaboration is going to be key.

One of the goals outlines in the IMLS strategic plan is to focus on learning/education. Our patrons want access to learning resources 24/7 and we should be providing the tools for this. It’s also important to note that learning is a lifelong process! The IMLS has created some guides/tools to help with this goal in your library: www.imls21stcenturyskills.org.

Susan talked about the Maker Culture – where people want to learn by doing. Libraries can help these learners by providing the space for these “makers”, using some of our space to allow for our patrons to learn by doing in our organizations. Susan focused specifically on physical making – but I think we can more easily (in a time when space is at a premium) provide digital spaces for these learners. Online education, tutorials and collaborative environments using tools like Moodle.

The second goal in the strategic plan is a focus on community. Libraries are at the heart of our communities and campuses. In addition to being physically in the center of our communities, with the proliferation of mobile devices we need to make sure we provide digital spaces as well. Susan showed a graph from www.tomorrow.org/speaku to show mobile usage information.

One key initiate that will improve public access to information is the Digital Public Library of America. The DLPA is in the proof on concept stage at this point. The goal is to provide broad public access to information on a free for all basis. This kind of thing has been done more brooding in Europe so the US is a bit behind in this. The group involved in building this product is made up of librarians, technologists, educators, students and others. This diverse group is looking in to developing an open source product that can handle multiple metadata formats and multiple types of content.

Sounds to me like they want Kete or to use that as the basis for their project.

The recommendations for this project and a prototype are due in 2013.

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